Zillow info doesn’t “pass the smell test”

Real Estate Agent with HER Realtors

Horse Curious from Jurvetson's Flickr Photostream CCl "Zillow info doesn’t “pass the smell test”  is a quote from a Denver real estate site, InsideRealEstateNews.com about the recent Forbes.com article that used Zillow's info to deduce there were 42,000 listings on the market in Denver Colorado in January 2010, which in part made Denver end up on a Forbes.com list that says Denver is the number two worst selling housing markets in America.  Or that's how people are reading the Forbes.com article with accompanying slide show.... think Forbes says.

Let's get this one out first... Yes Zillow Zestimates Zuck!  This is about Zillow but not about Zestimates.  Thanks.

Kristal Kraft  a Denver Colorado real estate broker said early on the Forbes.com report is "horse pucky."   Kristal's "Zillow Sucks and Forbes Sucks It Up" is a good read.

The Forbes.com writer / reporter / data gatherer now says the story called 'America's worst selling housing markets' does NOT say that Denver is the second worst housing market in America.  I don't know if if does NOT say Denver has the second - worst housing market in the country.  It seems to, to me, it does.

The Denver story is being redone because of local outcry over the garbled facts... it seems the "Zillow info doesn’t “pass the smell test”  but Zillow info  was used because it is for the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area.)   Isn't it  a fact that the Zillow info included in the Forbes article did not say what Francesca Levy of Forbes thought it said.  John Rebchook writes on InsideRealEstateNewscom writes:

"Levy told me that the article didn’t say that Denver had the second-worst housing market in the country, and she did not mean to imply that, although she could see how people were reaching the conclusion. She said it was based on  a “‘very narrow ” metric.  And that is the rub. She used data from Zillow.com, a large, giant aggregator of real estate information across the country.  Using information on Zillow’s Web site, she found more than 42,000 houses in a 10-county are listed for sale. That is more than double the number of homes listed for sale by Metrolist."

I could be wrong but I think Levy of Forbes.com thought the Zillow info was the number of listings for the whole MSA (MSA is Metropolitan Statistical Area I believe):

All MLS.  All FSBOs.  All Foreclosures.   

Or maybe Levy just thought it was "lots" of  MLS.  And  "lots" of  FSBOs.   And "lots" of Foreclosure because lets face it 42,000 homes is "lots" of homes.  Really "lots" of homes.  There were less than 19,000 on Metrolist (the Denver MLS.)

Zillow does not have all or even necessarily "lots" of  the real estate in a given market but somehow  they added it all together and got 42,000... I think now if I understand it correctly what Zillow is telling the nation about an individual MSA is

"We Zillow in January 2009 had X number of homes on our site.

Today January 10, 2010 we, Zillow have Y number of homes on our site. 

The inventory of homes ON OUR SITE has gone up, down, sideways..."  

Zillow stands by their numbers...   Who cares? That particular  Zillow info really doesn’t “pass the smell test”

America's Absolute worst selling housing markets or maybe not

Image Credit:  Curious   http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/ / CC BY 2.0


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Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

I find it interesting that Forbes would use a single source to report data.  There are many sites they could verify there data from.

Apr 18, 2010 01:17 AM #1
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

They did not use a single source for the article.

They used NAR, Moody's and Zillow, the first page it shows where the numbers come from.  They used Zillow for part of it.   The part about inventory for the MSA.

What sources could they use for the sales and inventory for an MSA?

The Forbes.com article says:

"Behind the Numbers
To find America's worst-selling cities, we started with all the Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the U.S. with populations over 1 million. Next we further narrowed the list to the MSAs with the biggest two-year sales price drops for single-family homes, based on data from the National Association of Realtors."

"Then we looked at the change in the number of single-family home sales between 2008 and 2009, with data from Moody's ( MCO - news - people )Economy.com, and cities where inventory was rising--a worrying sign that homes are increasingly stagnating on the market--using data from Zillow. The cities were ranked according to the biggest inventory increases and biggest drop in home sale numbers between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the fourth quarter of 2009. Those two metrics were then averaged for each city to determine our top 10."

The Forbes article  goes on to say that it is single family so San Francisco and New York may be not represented?  And I guess that might be messed up too... from something I read...

It says Detroit and Nashville are not included because the info about them was not available??? 



Apr 18, 2010 01:26 AM #2
Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ

Great article. Of course many prospective home buyers think Zillow is the best.

Apr 18, 2010 01:56 AM #3
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

For finding homes?  Zillow  has a lot of traffic and I do not begrudge them the traffic.  They work hard for that traffic and it is an interesting site. 

Homes for sale, home values (Zestimates) , market info, their blog....


Apr 18, 2010 02:05 AM #4
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

FYI thought you might enjoy an update.  Today Forbes DELETED both articles! 


Apr 23, 2010 11:27 AM #5
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Thanks for thinking of me... I saw a comment you left on AG come through on my phone... well it came through on my email account....   I am glad the Forbes article is  down.  Good work Kristal and Denver. Persistance paid off.

Apr 23, 2010 11:36 AM #6
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